How can you find an NHS dentist?

Can't find an NHS dentist? Read our tips on what to do if you’re facing problems finding an NHS dentist taking new patients.
A young black woman undergoes a dental treatment

Everyone should be able to get the care and advice they need to keep their teeth healthy. Unfortunately, people across the country have told us they can't get an appointment with an NHS dentist, with the situation worsening in many areas. 

Where's your nearest NHS dentist?

Use the NHS website to search for a dentist near you. The site also provides information on which dental practices currently accept new patients, whether they offer urgent appointments, and how others have rated the service.

While this is a good starting point for finding a local dentist, people often tell us that these records are only sometimes kept updated, so you should contact the practice directly for more information. If the records are out of date, you should let the practice know.

You can also visit a dentist outside your local area if it's more convenient. For example, if you prefer to see a dentist near where you work.

Can't find an NHS dentist taking new patients?

People have told us they're still looking for an NHS dentist who is taking on new patients. 

In February 2024 the Government announced the dental recovery plan, which outlines ways it intends to make it easier for people to get an NHS dental appointment through extra funding for appointments, bonus schemes for practices taking on new patients and mobile treatment vans. 

To find out more visit our explainer about how this will make it easier to access an appointment

If you need help finding an NHS dentist taking on new patients, you may speak to your local Healthwatch, who can provide information about local services. However, please note that Healthwatch relies on dental practices to provide up-to-date information.

You should also notify NHS England about the issue, as it must provide routine and urgent dental care nationwide. Find out how to make a complaint here.

What to do if you have a dental emergency?

If you need immediate care for your teeth, you should:

  • Ask your regular dentist whether they can offer an emergency appointment.
  • Phone NHS111, who can locate an urgent dental service.
  • Visit A&E if you experience severe pain, heavy bleeding, or face, mouth or teeth injuries.
Senior patient sitting in his dentists chair before starting his checkup

How much does dental treatment cost?

Most people pay for dental treatment, but some patients are exempt.

A routine examination, which includes diagnosis, advice, a scale and polish and some preventative care if clinically needed, costs £25.80. However, if you require further dental treatment, this will be an additional cost.

Dental practices usually offer both NHS and private dental care. Before you begin your treatment, check whether you are paying for NHS, private treatment, or both.

NHS dentists should always:

  • Explain which treatments are available on the NHS.
  • Explain which treatments are only available privately.
  • Ensure you know how much your NHS and private treatments will cost.

Find out more about what you should expect to pay for treatment.

How can you check whether your dentist is qualified?

A list of all qualified dentists in the UK is available via the General Dental Council (GDC) register, which is the regulatory body for the profession. 

Do note that you don’t register with a dentist in the same way as with a GP. You can choose to go to any dentist who can offer an appointment. Once a course of treatment finishes, the dentist is not obliged to see you in future. When you finish a course of treatment, you may want to book your next appointment to avoid problems in future.

What to do if you’re unhappy with your treatment

If you would like to complain about your treatment, please visit our advice on making a complaint. You can also check out advice from the Oral Health Foundation.